STORY ORCHESTRA: SWAN LAKE Book Review- A world come alive

Imagine hearing the magical story of Swan Lake for the first time as a child. The enchanting story about Prince Siegfried who falls in love with Odette, a Princess who is cursed to transform  into a swan each day. She is the most beautiful woman the Prince has seen and he knows he is meant to be with Odette forever. Enter the antagonist, cunning shape-shifting Rothbart, who forbids this partnership and tricks Prince Siegfried to marry his daughter Odile instead! It is only after this evil ploy that the Prince devises a plan to curse Rothbart and reunite with his one true love, Princess Odette.

Now imagine you not only get to hear the story of Siegfried and Odette but you can hold it in your hands. Brush your fingers over the lush detailed drawings, where twinkling lights and flowers encompass each page, and press a button to emit audible music. This is a book where you can both watch and listen as the narrative unfolds. This is The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake, illustrated and written by Jessica Courtney-Tickle and Katy Flint respectively.

The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake both Entertains and Educates

This book is as every bit educational as it is entertaining, in this reviewer’s view. While the ballet story is condensed into a mere ten pages here, it highlights all the right moments. Each page is filled with vibrant and intricate illustrations of the Prince’s castle, serene swans, and the forest that encapsules swan lake. Colorful full page pictures paint the story from beginning to end. At one point, the reader sees the cursed women dressed in white dresses with feathered headpieces and textured tutus, reminiscent of a Swan’s plumage. As the pages turn, the viewer is thrown into the party Siegfried’s mother has hosted. Warm pinks and yellows brighten the pages as men and women are clad in rich colored dresses and suit jackets. The words are clearly separated from the illustrations and the music is labeled with a musical note and a “press here” sign. This is user-friendly enough for those tiny tots to navigate. Even if the children cannot fully decipher the words on their own, there is plenty to gaze upon and listen to as a way to enjoy the book.

You too will likely appreciate the Glossary at the end of the book. Here you will find definitions of specific ballet and music terminology to learn more about each of these art forms. There is a biography of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, touching on his background and famous works for which he is known. There is a detailed page for all ten songs that played throughout the story. This shows what scene of the ballet the song is played in, and explains how each musical piece assists in the story-telling. Act 1, and the opening scene of this book, is particularly engaging in how it talks about the opening waltz. Flint explains, “You can tell the music is a waltz because it is in three-time. Count to three as the music plays and listen out for the ‘oom-pah-pah’ beat.”

There is something for everyone in The Story Orchestra addition of Swan Lake. Swan Lake is a timeless classical ballet love story that contains grandeur, tragedy, and romance composed by Tchaikovsky. This beloved ballet, first performed in 1877,  stands the test of time with its enchanting music and captivating story-telling. This new addition,The Story Orchestra: Swan Lake, makes it possible for children to take an active part in story-telling. It not only informs children of a classic tale but introduces them to world renowned classical music and ballet dance.


 $25 (MSRP)

 Available online or in a store near you (Amazon, Target, or Barnes and Noble).

Photos courtesy of STORY ORCHESTRA: SWAN LAKE Book

Francesca Baron
Francesca Baron

About the Author:

Francesca Baron is a freelance Chicago based choreographic + performing artist. Graduating cum laude with dual degrees in Dance and Psychology from Lindenwood University. Francesca is drawn to dance because it allows for dynamic expression through the instrument of one’s body. Making it a priority to travel and train in leading modern/contemporary dance forms, Francesca has attended The American Dance Festival (NC), One Body, One Career intensive (Amsterdam, NL), FACT S/F workshop (CA), New Dialect intensive (TN), LINK Dance Festival (UT), and Detroit Dance City Festival (MI), as well as many Chicago festivals and intensives. She has also been commissioned to create works for Inaside Chicago Dance, Esoteric Dance Project, New Dances 2019, and Lindenwood University. Currently, she is a company member of Still Inspired(?) as they prepare for their sixth season.

Learn more about Francesca at Francesca Baron website

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